It can be tempting when there’s an unresolved issue in your relationship to want to keep hammering at it until it’s resolved. Every dinner conversation, every phone call, every text interaction – you want to bring it up and try to fix it. But sometimes the best way to try to find a solution is to stop trying to find one at all. Just have a date night. Or a date day.
Stop the Seeking and Just Relax
My boyfriend and I are just like any other couple. We have disagreements, and we sometimes have bigger issues that aren’t resolved quickly. And just like anyone else, sometimes I just want to get past whatever it is. I want to talk about it, or do something about it, and be able to call it resolved, check it off a list, and move on.
I think that’s generally what we all want, right?
I have found myself, when we’ve had a big issue that we couldn’t easily fix, wanting to talk about it all the time. Every conversation, every text interaction, every verbal or written communication of any kind, I would want to talk about it until we found a solution.
And you know what? That got us nowhere. We’d say the same things over and over. We both wanted to fix it. We both wanted it to be fixed and behind us. We both had ideas for how to do that, but implementation was easier said than done – especially when those issues involve other people. When you’ve got kids from previous relationships, extended family, work, and other things that require your time and attention, sometimes your issues aren’t so much about the two of you as about the other people that get to stick their fingers and noses into your lives.
One day, I was unbelievably frustrated with a situation we had. I felt like there was no solution. I felt like we’d both talked until there was nothing more to talk about. I felt like I didn’t know what else to do, what else to say, or how we would ever find a solution to this issue.
And then we had an afternoon date. Nothing big or fancy, just an afternoon with just the two of us, spending some time together and chilling in front of the TV. The issue came up briefly, but it was very briefly. Most of the afternoon’s focus was just on us. Just being together, as if we had no issues.
A Step Back Might Be the Best Step Forward
That single afternoon together didn’t resolve our issue. But just having some time for the two of us, without the pressure and the tension of trying to find a solution when we just couldn’t at that time, made me feel much more relaxed and connected again.
Even when there aren’t unresolved issues, life itself can get in the way. You find yourself spending all your time talking about work, kids, obligations and responsibilities, and other things like it, and less time just being together. And of course, you should talk about those things. They’re important, and they need to be discussed.
But not to the exclusion of everything else.
That’s why a date night can be so helpful. It’s a break from the usual. A break from all that’s become normal in recent weeks, months, or even years in your relationship. And that break can help you reconnect and feel closer.
Taking a step back from real life can often be what you need to truly take the next step forward.
Do It Even If It Feels Weird
I know it might seem strange to think about going on a date and pretending everything is fine when you’ve become disconnected from your partner or there’s this looming problem that you haven’t been able to solve.
“How am I supposed to act like everything’s fine?” you might be saying. “How can we just go and watch a movie and have dinner when money is so tight?”
Or maybe it’s that you just feel so distant that you just can’t imagine acting like a “normal” couple. Or maybe there are some really big and deep-rooted issues, like infidelity or other reasons for lack of trust.
But here’s the thing: sometimes the best way to get to what you really want from your relationship is to act as-if. You’ve heard of this before. The old fake it till you make it. Or smile until you feel happy. Act as if your relationship is healthy, happy, and thriving.
Am I saying that going on a single date night will fix everything? Of course not. It won’t. And depending on the depth of the problems, you may find that counseling is the only thing that will fix them – or maybe even that there is no fixing them and the relationship is over.
But you want to start by giving your relationship every chance, right? You want to do whatever you can to fix it, improve it, energize it, don’t you?
Start with a date night. Take a few hours, or a whole day, and just be together. Go to the movies, have lunch or dinner, take a walk through downtown or along the river. If nothing else, send the kids off to see Grandma and Grandpa and spend the day at home alone together. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner together, binge watch some Netflix, and take advantage of the privacy to hit the sheets.
Even if it feels weird, do it.
The Key Is It Has to Be a Date
The key to this, though, is that it absolutely has to be a date. What does that mean?
It means there are a few ground rules:
- Don’t use this date as a chance to air out other problems.
- Don’t use this date to talk about the kids, work, home repairs, car problems, family issues, or to gossip about the neighbors, your family, or your friends.
- Do use it as an opportunity to get to know each other again. Ask questions about things like future dreams and goals, talk about movies you want to see or have seen or books you’ve both read (or recommend books to each other), or engage in an activity that neither of you has done before so you can discuss your expectations and then the reality.
- Do truly let go of the unresolved issue between you. When thoughts creep in like, “Oh, this would be so nice if it weren’t for ____,” shove them out. Treat this like you would one of your early dates, when you had limited to no expectations. Enjoy the time for what it is, regardless of what might be going on in the rest of your life. Pretend the date is a bubble, insulated and protected against any problems you have outside of it.
Also, don’t think of the problem like a coat that you drop off and pick up at the front door. Don’t drop the problem at the beginning of the date just to pick it back up the second the date is over. Enjoy the time together, and savor the afterglow. Give it a few days. You might discover that the combination of the date night with a few days breathing room gives you just what you need to sit down and have a productive discussion. You may suddenly find a solution that seems incredibly obvious just because you took the pressure off.
Date nights won’t fix everything. But sometimes, they give you the space, connection, and rediscovery of love that you need to find the solution you’ve been looking for.